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Scientists developing an international measuring concept for carbon sequestration in afforestation to slow down climate change

The aim of the scientists is to determine the overall impact of forests on climate. The concept measuring the effects of natural carbon sinks is expected to be completed as early as November.

According to the Paris Climate Agreement, one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon in the air, in addition to emission limitations, is to naturally sequester carbon from the atmosphere using photosynthetic, nature’s own carbon sinks. However, there has not been a common, internationally acknowledged measuring method to reliably assess the overall effects on the climate.

The Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research at the University of Helsinki and the energy company St1 have agreed that the company will support the university’s measuring concept project. The aim of the project is to create an internationally acknowledged comprehensive measuring method for future carbon sequestration projects.

- A common measuring method for sequestered carbon in ecosystems and the thus assessed amount of sequestered carbon are prerequisites for making afforestation a globally significant method of slowing down climate change, says Markku Kulmala, academic at the University of Helsinki.

The aim of the project is to create an internationally acknowledged comprehensive measuring method for future carbon sequestration projects.

During the project, in collaboration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and ICOS RI (International Carbon Observation System Research Infrastructure), the University of Helsinki will create a comprehensive concept about how the climate effects of forests and carbon sequestration in forest trees, soil and other forest plants can be reliably measured. The research group will also create recommendations for how the world’s carbon sinks can be reinforced and what kinds of measuring equipment and methods should be used to measure them. The goal is to finish the measuring concept as early as November and to obtain the approval of the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, working under the UN) for it and to make it part of the IPCC Guidelines. 

- As part of the project, we will consider the significance of forests not only as carbon sinks but also as sources of micro-particles and their effects on the ground’s reflecting power. This way we can assess the overall effects of forests on the climate. In the research community, we are happy with private companies, in this case St1’s, interest and plans for reducing the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, says Markku Kulmala.

The energy company St1 has been a loud speaker bringing up the need to increase the amount of forests in controlling climate change.

- We are extremely proud to collaborate with top Finnish researchers, because the project has a broad international meaning for future carbon sequestration projects. Thanks to reliable measuring methods, companies will gain value from carbon sequestration, which is vital for the widespread promotion of afforestation, says Heidi Laurila, head project manager at St1.

Further information:
Markku Kulmala, Academy Professor, University of Helsinki, Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research, tel. +358 40 596 2311
Jari Liski, Research Professor, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 40 748 5088
Heidi Laurila, Project Manager, St1 Renewable Energy Oy, tel. +358 40 065 3139

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